Friday, December 28, 2012

Sword Art Online Review

Before I begin this review I'd like to mention that this is going to be a pretty harsh review. I was a little shocked at first to see that people were rating this anime 10/10 when they had only watched about 3 episode or not even half the series, so I decided to see what the hype was all about. This anime was honestly hard for me to watch as I started to lose more and more interest as I continued the show but for the sake of others, I ended up forcing myself to finish this series just to be able to write an honest opinion for you guys. Be aware that there will be spoilers below. Feel free to comment or question also.

For those of you that don't know Sword Art Online (SAO), it is an adventurous story about a boy who gets trapped in a virtual reality game with thousands of other players and the only way to win your freedom is to clear the 100 floors of the floating castle Aincrad. The consequences of dying in the game result in dying in real life. So the game offers players the basic fundamentals of any MMORPG but with life-like functions to create a realistic fantasy world. As players work together to clear the floors, the players themselves also adapt to the virtual world.

Overall review

Overall Score - 5/10

Plot - 3/10 - I never asked for cheese with my anime.

A survival online game themed anime similar to .hack . Although the story at first seemed interesting, it slowly got off track and became more of a romance. The focus of the story was to complete the game and return back to the real world but very few of the episodes showed any progression towards clearing the castle floors. Most episodes consisted of fillers, this was shown by how many floors were skipped so fast and not showing any progression towards Kirito getting stronger. The side characters were given arcs in the early episodes of SAO and those characters would be disposed of after 1 or 2 episodes at most. This was disappointing in the fact that fans who enjoyed those characters would never see them again after their arc. These characters were only there to reveal and develop Kirito's characteristics as well as a little back story behind his RPG experiences and such. Some of the arcs were actually far more enjoying than the main story to be honest, but i felt that with such limitations they could only put so much into a single episode. The dramatic effects were really weak, characters that were killed or meant to create a dramatic feel did not provide enough effect because those characters were either not important enough or the scene was not as powerful as it could have been. What was worse was the fact that they made it seem somewhat like a harem, where Kirito won the hearts of many girls only to let them down and focus his true love on a single girl which would be introduced later. Even so, the later episodes became somewhat mixed as it would go back and forth between a comedy/romance filler type episode to an action packed dungeon raid, it was bad transitioning. The ending for the first half (SAO) was somewhat disappointing as I didn't really feel the final fight. After knowing he was capable of beating Heathcliff in the duel, the fight would be a win already but they had to go about with that final stand and "heart of my friends make me stronger" bullshit to make him overcome the situation. It really didn't help that they poorly set up that final scene and transitioning. Also some illogical nonsense to the fact that Heathcliff is an experienced one handed sword and shield user, so it defeats the purpose if Kirito managed to kill him if he had a sword already through him and that his foe had a shield in his other hand with full health.

The second season of SAO which is Alfheim Online was really a mess up. Having returned to the real world, he was already entering a new online world in search to save his precious Asuna. I felt this season was a little better in the fact that he was heading straight for his goal of reaching the World Tree, but in between he would bump into pointless enemies and conflicts that would only last so short due to the god mode they decided to give upon Kirito loool. New characters were introduced and thus disposed of right after and soon enough Kirito would once reach the top and clear the game. Although what I did like about this season was the drama occurrence between Kirito and his sister, Suguha. I felt like you could really feel the feels of the two and at least add some extra flavor to the story. Instead of facing just one conflict now, he had a real life situation he had to deal with his sibling, and it made it all a bit more interesting. The final fight was terrible, and by that I don't mean Sugou's sexual abuse towards Asuna. I mean I don't support that shit either but I felt like Kirito could finally lose for once. I was thinking this was a good chance to have him do that memory lane type crap of him and Asuna and his will and strength would prove to pick him up once again and have him really fight against Sugou. Something that would prove epic and have everyone cheering him on to win, but once again I was truly dissapointed. Having Kirito put in his place, blacked out and seeing the light which would be none other than Kayaba's ghost giving him admin powers and a seed to create a world of online worlds... Yeah that's right, the man who died in SAO somehow his ghost came and gave Kirito admin powers just to let Kirito log in and beat the shit out of Sugou and make him as pathetic as a Level 1 player versus a final boss. This was simply a sign of luck, and it was terribly done. I don't even know what to say after, oh wait...fight scene in front of hospital, Sugou has the chance to kill but apparently kicks him to humiliate him, then Kirito realizes real life can be like game? God modes in real life and wins again.

Characters - 6/10 - I like Liz, Klein, and oh wait what's his name?

Don't get me wrong, I do like the characters as they are very enjoying and show different personalities but the problem was you wouldn't ever see them again until the very last episode. You would think that those characters on the image of the official Sword Art Online title picture would be like the friends who venture to the very end with Kirito, but no. It was really disappointing and defeated the purpose of having them in the first place. In fact, some of those characters added a lot more to the story itself rather than the main hero and heroine. The side character arcs were there to mainly develop Kirito's characteristics but the arcs themselves were fun and touching to watch. I got more feels watching Liz's episode in the dragon's den than all of Asuna eps combined, that Loli was a little annoying but got her dragon back, Klein was the cool and supportive guy, and Sachi (﹏╥).

Kirito was made out to be too overpowered and perfect that it was really boring. He was the godly beater who knew his stuff and really could just slash his way through or overcome the impossible with little to no effort. He was honestly too predictable to the point that you knew he would conquer the game no problem. Hell, it felt like he was trying to be a Simon or Kamina from Gurren Lagann, but without the epicness you get from those guys. When he jumped into ALO, he was killing players who already joined awhile back and even the strongest of the salamanders who had a god like weapon. Felt like that guy put all his effort in the game to be defeated by some measly little kid who just cheated his way in with broken stat points. I guess the thing with Kirito was that he had pretty much no flaws, making him absolutely predictable and boring to the very end.

Asuna on the other hand, she was similar to Kirito in terms of skill but more in speed and was very supportive. She was pretty much a dere dere and only cared for Kirito period. She added some weak ass dramatic effect, acting as if they were about to battle some large scale war and that there was a good chance they wouldn't make it out. Right... because they knew they could lose somehow even with an overpowered team, an admin NPC that can one hit reapers, and Kirito who is the only player capable of dual wielding weapons. I couldn't stand Asuna in terms of romance because she had no history or romantic build up towards Kirito, unlike Lizbeth, but since she was a main character and Kirito was always there to save her then it only made sense to have her fall for him and just play that till the end. More to say, this romance was half assed. Maid Sama has better romance, and that was a shitty romance. 

I won't bother with Kayaba but Sugou was a dumbass for having number code door locks  and a mirror in the same prison room. Not to mention not killing Kirito at the hospital when he had the chance to. Other foes such as that Assassins guild in SAO didn't even have a chance to appear. There were very few scenes where it showed an emblem or some sort of sign where they were there but that was it, you never saw them or what they could do. Lets not forget the fan service they decided to throw in cause you know that was really relevant. I mean having your company workers as snails with tentacles was a great idea in representation of a elf king's subordinates. Why couldn't I think of that, would be a lot better than having something majestic like a minotaur, or Cerberus. Recon's relevance was bothersome to me as well. They played him out as some idiotic, and useless tool of a character throughout the 2nd season. It really bothered me when he has his time to shine and be a badass, sacrificing himself in the World Tree to create a large enough explosion for Kirito to fly through but instead his cause was wasted and only to be laughed at when you realize that backup came 2 minutes right after. It was truly sad when they gave characters like Recon absolutely no chance at all at anything. All in all, can't really appreciate the side characters for such little time they had and the main characters ended up creating a Kirito x Asuna bandwagon which everyone and their little sisters are hopping on these days. 

Animation - 8/10 - A-1 Pictures, what's not to like?

This studio is great for making their cute character designs. Background scenery was really impressive and the effects were up there as well. The animation was very crisp and smooth, having watched all of it on 720p. The fight scenes were really enjoying for the short time they lasted but there could have been more detail in certain aspects. I give more credit to the OP and ED videos as they were highlights for me.

Music - 7/10 - LisA, can't go wrong with that.

The opening of season 1 caught my attention, mainly for the fact that it was LisA but the flow and lyrics made it my type of song. I wasn't really into the ending of season 1 but the ending for season 2 was my favorite. The opening of season 2 was alright but nothing too great for me. As for the actual soundtrack used in the show, I didn't find myself really feeling the OST but I wasn't annoyed by it either. It may just have been that I was too annoyed with the plot and other various things that I didn't pay much attention to the soundtrack. The dramatic scenes didn't really have a soundtrack that would improve the effect and feel of the scene, so it was a little disappointing in that area as well. 

Entertainment - 4/10 - The most rarest thing to find in all of Sword Art Online!

I can say that I was not entertained at all with how this anime went. Normally I would be downloading the next episode as soon as the Saturday came but in this case, no. I was honestly asking myself if i should be doing this and had a small bit of hope inside telling me that this show would clutch and pick itself up. In the end I should have just left off at around episode 13. The plot was messy, rushed, mixed, off track, it was plain out terrible. I know hundreds of you guys are telling me the novel is 100x better but honestly, I find more entertainment value in animation so it shouldn't be as bad to the point that everyone is telling me to read the novel instead. I could say the only thing entertaining in this show was how ridiculous it got. This is definitely one of those watch it once and never again type animes.

A good representation of how this anime turned out
One last tear dropped as she was never seen again

Extra comments - Why is this anime so hyped?

I am honestly curious to know why people find this anime to be very amazing. I mean surely, it's not the worst anime I've seen but It's somewhere near there. This started out to be an anime I was hyped to look forward to but in the end it turned out as worst as I could have possibly imagine. Maybe my expectations were too high but I'm harsh on scoring every other anime I watch as well. I honestly think that this show was hyped due to the fact that many could relate to mmorpgs and the such. To compare solo players with actual rpg players who like to solo really isn't that hard and thus the masses of Kirito's which you find now on almost every mmorpgs and these guys are seriously trying to follow the footsteps of a hardcore elitist. Where is the originality in that? Other than that thought, many people seem to ship this whole Kirito and Asuna deal but I honestly felt the romance was half assed. If you looked at Lizbeth's arc, she worked her courage up to ask Kirito as they went through that touching scene in the dragon's den. Even Kirito himself opened up to her, and I felt that very episode that he himself developed a good amount of character, enough for me to say I actually like the dude. But it was imminent for him to be with Asuna so he turned her down and even Liz was nice enough to put herself down to help a friend. Its a shame they really didn't have any other romance conflicts since they had taken the subject pretty far. I mean, they could have other girls have a chance at least, giving Asuna the chance to fight and develop her romance toward Kirito and not just have the two perfectly shipped to begin with. But what am I saying, this anime wasn't a romance to begin with. Hopefully they don't bring out that Gun Gale Online, as I want to officially be done with this series.